Odi­ase sees old Stamps mates as ‘broth­ers’

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - DANNY AUSTIN daustin@post­media.com @Dan­nyAustin_9

Osagie Odi­ase doesn’t talk about the Calgary Stampeders the way most play­ers speak about their for­mer teams.

How could he? In two years with the Stampeders, Odi­ase played 10 games in one of the league’s most com­pet­i­tive de­fen­sive back­fields and learned what it took to be a CFL player.

Odi­ase also lost one of his clos­est friends when his team­mate and room­mate My­lan Hicks was mur­dered out­side a Calgary night­club on Septem­ber 25, 2016.

In the months af­ter tragedy struck, Odi­ase re­lied on the sup­port the Stampeders pro­vided and leaned on his older team­mates for sup­port.

To this day, Odi­ase calls his old team­mates his ‘broth­ers’ and he ad­mit­ted Thurs­day that the bonds they formed made it es­pe­cially tough when he was re­leased by the Stamps on Aug. 13.

“I was heart­bro­ken,” Odi­ase said from Tim Hor­tons Field. “A trau­matic thing hap­pened to me, los­ing My­lan, and when that hap­pened I ab­sorbed the vets. I ab­sorbed the team even more, you know what I mean? They be­came my broth­ers.

“They looked af­ter me af­ter that. Be­ing let-go was a heartwrencher, it hurt me a lot, I’m not go­ing to lie.”

Odi­ase has noth­ing but good things to say about the Stampeders or­ga­ni­za­tion and un­der­stands that foot­ball’s a busi­ness. The Stamps made a busi­ness de­ci­sion when they re­leased him, and he’s found a happy land­ing spot in Hamil­ton, where he’s es­tab­lished him­self as the surg­ing team’s start­ing de­fen­sive half­back since sign­ing on Aug. 30.

Even from half­way across the coun­try, though, the bond Odi­ase formed with his Calgary team­mates re­mains strong. So strong, in fact, that he was vis­i­bly ea­ger to catch up with the Stamps once they ar­rived in Hamil­ton on Thurs­day.

“Man, I’m ex­cited, it’s cool to be able to play against your boys and be able to see your boys, I haven’t seen them in a long time,” Odi­ase said. “I talked to them this week, ac­tu­ally. We just talked and every­body’s just ex­cited to see every­body.

“I’ll prob­a­bly grab din­ner with the DBs, we’ll do our nor­mal thing we did when we trav­elled. Josh Bell hit me up, said ‘let’s grab some food.’ Ciante hit me up and said ‘let’s do our rou­tine.’ It’s not like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk to you, we’re play­ing against you.’ Some of those dudes, they prob­a­bly could be in my wedding some­day.”

The good­will be­tween Odi­ase and the Stampeders ap­pears to be mu­tual.

The de­ci­sion to re­lease him wasn’t an easy one, but with the Stampeders boast­ing the deep­est de­fen­sive back group in the CFL, head coach Dave Dick­en­son said he be­lieved that be­ing re­leased by Calgary and join­ing on with an­other team was al­ways the best thing for Odi­ase’s ca­reer.

“It was tough when we let him go but I felt like he wasn’t re­ally go­ing to have a chance to be on our ros­ter any­ways,” Dick­en­son said. “At the time we had huge depth at DB and I think it was best for him to try to play and make a name for him­self, and I’m glad that he hooked on here.”

That was a sen­ti­ment that was echoed by Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell on Thurs­day.

“He’s not a guy I think we wanted to see let go, he was great in the locker-room ob­vi­ously, and ob­vi­ously we all went through some­thing to­gether, and him prob­a­bly tougher than any­body else, be­ing so close to My­lan,” Mitchell said. “But he’s an awe­some DB, so we knew that when he went some­where else, he was go­ing to get his chance.”

DWAYNE WHO?

The Stampeders made five changes to their ros­ter for Fri­day’s game, and they brought some of their big­gest names back into the lineup.

Names like Jerome Mes­sam, Ka­mar Jorden, DaVaris Daniels and Dwayne Nor­man … Wait, who?

Nor­man was only added to the Stampeders prac­tice ros­ter on Aug. 31, and while he’s of­fi­cially listed on the team’s depth chart as a line­backer he but will mostly be step­ping in on spe­cial teams for Fri­day’s game.

With the likes of Maleki Har­ris, Deron Mayo and Wyn­ton McMa­nis all fight­ing through in­juries, Nor­man was next up.

“He’s been fit­ting in with our sys­tem, we think he can play,” Dick­en­son said. “He’s go­ing to get his shot, he’s go­ing to have (a chance) on spe­cial teams first.”

OP­TIONS

With Jorden and Daniels re­turn­ing to the lineup, the Stamps have plenty of op­tions at re­ceiver.

Es­pe­cially be­cause they man­aged to keep both Marken Michel and Reg­gie Begel­ton in the lineup.

“The whole re­ceiver po­si­tion, what it’s done is it’s given us more depth,” Dick­en­son said. “At least we feel more con­fi­dent in our depth and, go­ing for­ward, I still think ob­vi­ously the guys who were starters at the be­gin­ning of the year haven’t done any­thing to lose their jobs, but both Marken and Reg­gie have made a lot of plays for the last two weeks.

“We’ve found some­thing with our young guys, but our vet­er­ans have been prac­tis­ing hard and cer­tainly should give us a lift.”

JIM WELLS/FILES

Ticats de­fen­sive back Osagie Odi­ase, wear­ing a Stampeders toque dur­ing a light moment last sea­son, says be­ing let go by the Stamps was “a heartwrencher.”

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